(Yicai Global) Feb. 22 -- The news that the price of a flight from China's tropical Hainan province to Harbin in frosty northeastern Heilongjiang jumped to nearly CNY20,000 (USD3,140) has generated turbulence at the end of this year's Spring Festival holiday.
Exploiting the great imbalance between the supply of and demand for tickets during the holiday, airlines jacked their prices several-fold, sparking suspicions of their engagement in monopolistic practices, Securities Times quoted experts as saying.
Flights from Sanya on Hainan Island -- billed as 'China's Hawaii' -- to Beijing serve as an apt example of this practice. As many airlines' booking systems show, tickets from this beach resort city to various destinations nationwide all cost over CNY10,000 (USD1,570) this month -- the usual full business-class price. From March, the cost of an economy-class seat will descend to about CNY1,600 while that for business class will level off at a discounted CNY5,000.
Several airlines dismissed the possibility of additional flights to cope with demand. Some said fares will continue to fluctuate with market demand, but 'within the scope of relevant provisions,' and as filed with relevant authorities. The Chinese government lifted price caps on state-run airlines' fares last month, CNN Money reported Jan. 8.